Crystal Lake School District 47 could see enrollment decline over 10 years

CRYSTAL LAKE – If projections from a contracted professional come to fruition, Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 will see an enrollment decline of about 500 students in the next 10 years.

During its most recent Committee of the Whole meeting, the school board heard a presentation based on projections provided by Dr. John Kasarda.

Superintendent Kathy Hinz said Kasarda initially was contracted to conduct enrollment studies for Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 and its feeder districts in 1988.

Since that time, the districts have contracted for updates eight times over the past three decades, presentation documents said.

The most likely projections indicate District 47 student enrollment will decline by about 500 students in the next 10 years, from about 7,450 students in 2016 to about 6,945 students in 2026.

Kasarda's findings suggest the size of kindergarten classes will remain flat or decline in some instances, based on birth trends. Modest new housing development also was predicted with housing turnover returning to normal market rate. The population of Crystal Lake from now to 2030 was predicted to grow modestly, while Lake in the Hills and Lakewood could see "considerable growth" through 2040, district documents said.

Factors in obtaining the most likely projections include the assumption that future fertility rates remain constant through 2020, and that turnover of existing housing and future development occur as anticipated.

Hinz went over some areas that could be affected given significant enrollment changes, but said the most recent projections would not necessarily be considered significant.

"Given total district enrollment, a projected decline of approximately 500 students over 10 years is not significant," she wrote in an email. "Across 12 buildings (assuming equal distribution) this would translate to fewer than five students per grade level in each elementary building and about 18 students per grade level in each middle school."

Still, some of the potential areas that could be affected by this type of gradual change include educational programming, staffing levels and placement, and building usage, Hinz said.

The projections sparked a brief conversation about potentially creating a committee of community leaders, parents, teachers and administrators.

The group's purpose would be to "obtain input from key stakeholders on issues such as utilization of resources and to broaden discussions on educational programming," Hinz wrote.

The board will receive more information about the possibility of forming such a committee, but no recommendation has been put forth at this point.

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